PC Plat­inum are no pushovers

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Comment & Opinion -

FC Plat­inum plunge into the big­gest match in their his­tory today when they host South African giants Or­lando Pi­rates at Bar­bour­fields in a CAF Cham­pi­ons League Group B show­down likely to il­lu­mi­nate the City of Kings. It’s a mea­sure of how far the Zvisha­vane min­ers have come, in a stun­ning trans­for­ma­tion that has seen them turn from a Divi­sion One side, just nine years ago, into the dom­i­nant foot­ball force on the do­mes­tic scene in the last two years.

Their crit­ics have been quick to sug­gest that they are just mere ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the riches, from their plat­inum base, which have seen them at­tract some of the best play­ers and coach­ing brains on the do­mes­tic scene and the bub­ble will burst sooner rather than later.

How­ever, we tend to dis­agree with such a view be­cause, as has been shown now and again in this game, hav­ing the fi­nan­cial mus­cle doesn’t al­ways trans­late into suc­cess on the field.

What is needed, and what those who are in charge of FC Plat­inum have shown us, is sound lead­er­ship, the abil­ity to plan ac­cord­ingly and pro­vide a con­ducive at­mos­phere where their foot­ball fran­chise can thrive and the re­sults have been there for ev­ery­one to see.

The club’s man­age­ment, to their credit, have cho­sen not to fall into the trap of in­ter­fer­ing in the af­fairs of the coach­ing de­part­ment, giv­ing Nor­man Mapeza and his back­room staff the free­dom to ex­e­cute their du­ties freely, and this has cre­ated a pro­fes­sional and thriv­ing set-up at the club.

Rather than just de­pend on the cash hand­outs, which they used to get from their par­ent com­pany Mi­mosa Mines, we have seen the lead­ers of FC Plat­inum start­ing a num­ber of busi­ness ven­tures which have given the foot­ball club the fi­nan­cial back­ing to now stand on its own.

You could tell from the very be­gin­ning, when they came into the do­mes­tic Pre­mier­ship, that they in­tended to do things in a dif­fer­ent way.

The way they in­vested a con­sid­er­able for­tune to con­vert Man­dava Sta­dium from an or­di­nary foot­ball ground, into one of the best in the coun­try, spoke vol­umes about their vi­sion from the word go.

It’s a shame they could not host their big­gest game, in their his­tory, in their home sta­dium be­cause the CAF lead­ers some­how against cred­i­ble ev­i­dence and rea­son said Man­dava Sta­dium did not have the req­ui­site me­dia fa­cil­i­ties for such a huge game.

But, de­spite be­ing handed what is clearly a raw deal, given that we have seen a num­ber of other worse sta­di­ums across Africa be­ing given the rights to host such matches, we urge FC Plat­inum not to be dis­tracted by all what has hap­pened in the last few days.

After all, hav­ing played a num­ber of matches at Bar­bour­fields in Bu­l­awayo, they know this sta­dium far bet­ter than Or­lando Pi­rates and, iron­i­cally, FC Plat­inum have al­ways seemed to do very well ev­ery time they have played there.

What is at stake here is the pro­file of our club foot­ball, given that our teams have, in the past few years, strug­gled to do well in the Cham­pi­ons League, with many of them be­ing knocked out in the early rounds.

This has seen us los­ing the priv­i­lege that we used to have, when Dy­namos were do­ing very well in the Cham­pi­ons League and reaching the fi­nal and semi-fi­nal of the tour­na­ment, with CAF hand­ing us ex­tra slots in their in­ter-club tour­na­ments be­cause of those suc­cess sto­ries.

This meant we could field four teams, two in the Cham­pi­ons League and two in the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup, but now we are back to just field­ing one team in each com­pe­ti­tion.

The chal­lenge is for FC Plat­inum to start that jour­ney, now that they have gone as far as reaching the group stages of the Cham­pi­ons League, to take us back where we be­lieve we be­long. That is, one of those coun­tries with ex­tra slots in the tour­na­ments.

A vic­tory over Or­lando Pi­rates, one of the real giants of African foot­ball, will send just the right state­ment across the con­ti­nent that FC Plat­inum are not in their group just to make up the num­bers.

It will also de­liver the mes­sage that do­mes­tic league foot­ball, which the plat­inum min­ers are rep­re­sent­ing, is in good health de­spite hav­ing to deal with reg­u­lar losses of its star play­ers to South Africa.

FC Plat­inum should not be left to walk alone in this bat­tle, be­cause they are fly­ing our flag, and they de­serve the sup­port of ev­ery Zim­bab­wean as they try to beat this Go­liath that has come to town with a pedi­gree that can frighten most of the clubs on the con­ti­nent.

Fans should come in full force and en­sure FC Plat­inum feel the love and, in foot­ball, that can make a huge dif­fer­ence and that is why home teams have al­ways been dif­fi­cult to beat, es­pe­cially with their sup­port­ers in full cry be­hind their cause.

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